Reminder: What does GOD say about refugees?

Quoting from the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 10, verses 16 to 19: “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”

You might be tempted to reply that this only applied to the Israelites, as it was spoken to them by God, through Moses, but may I remind you that God, as revealed in the Scriptures and through Jesus Christ “…is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) and “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

 

The Upcoming Australian Election (can be applied to any election; anywhere!) – My thoughts

Let’s be those who prayerfully consider the present needs of our precious country of Australia and make the effort to carefully consider the responsibility before us to appoint worthy representatives in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Are they representing our struggling and often forgotten farmers, those most vulnerable in our society such as old people, the unborn and children, mothers and children fleeing from abusive partners, the mentally ill, those in the grip of addiction, refugees and their children, left without hope and ill treated, the sale of our land and houses for mere profit, to those who don’t care for our country or its people and are robbing young couples of what used to be and still should be the great Australian dream? I am sure, you can think of other, presently neglected but vital issues which need to be revived and protected.

The time is now to take responsibility; next week it will be too late!

I wanted to watch a movie last night; instead I felt compelled to do my homework and to plow through the confusing array of choices. Prayer helps in this process!

Ultimately it comes back to one issue: “Hallowed be your Name. Your will be done on earth (as it is in heaven)!” Amen.

God’s promises to refugees in Psalm 107

The Israelites, thousands of years ago, found themselves to be wandering in the wilderness, cut off from their previous lives, with only God’s help as their hope and God appointed leaders to help them.

Today, there are still millions of people in the same situation, many have never heard of the God who deeply cares for their plight. As in the psalm below, they need a revelation of the One True God, Yahweh; now revealed through Jesus Christ, the Saviour. This is one of the most important prayers to pray, on their behalf.

refugee camp

Psalm 107

1Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.
4Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
6Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
8Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
10Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
12So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
14He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
15Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.
17Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18They loathed all food
and drew near the gates of death.
19Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
20He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
21Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy.
23Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
26They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
27They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
28Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
30They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
31Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.
33He turned rivers into a desert,
flowing springs into thirsty ground,
34and fruitful land into a salt waste,
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle.
37They sowed fields and planted vineyards
that yielded a fruitful harvest;
38he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
and he did not let their herds diminish.
39Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
40he who pours contempt on nobles
made them wander in a trackless waste.
41But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
and increased their families like flocks.
42The upright see and rejoice,
but all the wicked shut their mouths.
43Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

Easter greetings and some thoughts on human slavery

Dear friends and fellow pray-ers!

Like some of you; this morning I awoke to a Facebook security message asking me to reply whether I was safe, in view of an explosion which took place just recently. It turned out to be a world-wide error by Facebook, in response to an explosion which just took place in Pakistan (I googled it to find out). It nevertheless touched a nerve in me; in view of all the recent unsettling events world-wide. It could well have occurred on our soil, and there have been and continue to be attempts here to orchestrate just such a terror event as we have seen recently in Brussels and Paris.

When criminals consider their heinous crimes to be holy acts of a holy war and pleasing to their god, then we are facing a new and infinitely worse level of evil. As Christians we shouldn’t be surprised what the evil one is capable of, especially as his time on earth is reaching its final stage (Revelation 20:10).

One of the worst forms of evil which, unlike the sudden death caused by of a terror related explosion, or its wounding or lasting maiming effects, is the entrapment and daily abuse of other human beings through slavery. As we have seen before; it often touches the people group we are and have been praying for: refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP’s).

What should our response as intercessors be to such overwhelming evil? I can think of no better one than the one recommended by our Lord Himself: The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)! In it is contained what our response should be. I believe that not only does it evoke the best answer from God to a seemingly ever increasing form of evil but keeps us in a place of calm and peace. For it keeps our eyes on Him, who is our wisdom, our safety and our peace (Is. 26:3-4; Thess. 3:16; 1 Cor. 1:30; Ps 46:1-3).

We just celebrated Easter and I realise that Jesus Himself lived that prayer to perfection; He lived “hallowing” or highly honouring the name of the Father, submitting to and serving His will, ushering in God’s Kingdom (as its King and Humble Servant), giving the hungry bread and much more, He Himself delivering us from evil through His death and resurrection and, tortured, mocked and in His dying breath; asking for forgiveness for His tormentors and murderers “because they knew not what they did”.

The depth of Christ’s life and words are infinitely worthwhile to read about and to meditate upon. They continuously have the effect of transforming us and bringing us His life, through faith.

Enjoy this final day of this year’s Easter break!

P.S.

Below some info and stats on the worldwide situation regarding slavery:

Contemporary slavery, also known as modern slavery, refers to the institution of slavery that continue to exist in the present day. Estimates of the number of slaves today range from around 21 million to 29 million. Modern slavery is a multibillion-dollar industry with estimates of up to $35 billion generated annually.

The Global Slavery Index 2013 states that 10 nations account for 76 percent of the world’s enslaved. India has the most slaves of any country, at 14 million (over 1% of the population). China has the second-largest number with 2.9 million slaves, followed by Pakistan with 2.1 million, Nigeria with 701,000, Ethiopia with 651,000, Russia with 516,000, Thailand with 473,000, Congo with 462,000, Myanmar with 384,000, and Bangladesh with 343,000.

An estimated 22% of slaves to date are active in the sex industry.

Children comprise about 26% of the slaves today. Most are domestic workers or work in cocoa, cotton or fishing industries. Many are trafficked and sexually exploited. In war-torn countries, children have been kidnapped and sold to political parties to be used as child soldiers. Forced child labor is the dominant form of slavery in Haiti.

Mainly driven by the culture in certain regions, early or forced marriage is a form of slavery that affects millions of women and girls all over the world. When families cannot support their children, the daughters are often married off to the males of wealthier, more powerful families. These men are often significantly older than the girls. The females are forced into lives whose main purpose is to serve their husbands. This oftentimes fosters an environment for physical, verbal and sexual abuse.

Islamist

In 2003 Shaykh Saleh Al-Fawzan, a member at that time of the Senior Council of Clerics, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body, issued a fatwa stating “Slavery is a part of Islam. Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam,” and that anyone who says otherwise “is an infidel.”

Two Islamist groups, Boko Haram and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have supported the practice of slavery. In 2014, both groups were reported to have kidnapped large numbers of girls and younger women. According to an August 2015 story in The New York Times, in territory of the Islamic State, “the trade in Yazidi women and girls has created a persistent infrastructure, with a network of warehouses where the victims are held, viewing rooms where they are inspected and marketed, and a dedicated fleet of buses used to transport them.”

Quotations taken from Wikipedia website

 

The L-Factor in all things

 

Love is probably one of the most (mis)used words, yet least understood.
We call love between “brothers”, those who are united in the same cause ‘Philia’.

The love between family members is called ‘Storge’.

Then there is the much sung about type, Eros; consisting of powerful sexual attraction.

When God speaks of His love, it is always called Agape, God’s kind of love. Below, we will look at what His love looks like in practical terms:

1 Corinthians 13: v1 (The Message)
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
V3
“…So no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”
V4-8 The Nature of Love (Agape):
“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, (God’s truth, as revealed in the Bible but also truth versus lies – my comment)
Puts up with anything (is not masochistic; endures with a God-given purpose – my additions).
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best (without a Pollyanna complex! i.e. unrealistic positivity based on good feelings but rather based on God’s character and word – my addition).
Never looks back (except to learn from the past, not to live in regret – my addition),
But keeps going to the end (displaying faithfulness, endurance and dependability; see the life of Christ – my comments)

So how can mere man make the switch from the so-common self-centred ‘love’ to God’s kind of love? Definitely not by trying hard and gritting one’s teeth, although self-denial is part of it. We need to switch from ‘being in Adam’ to becoming ‘in Christ’. That’s where the much maligned and ridiculed concept of ‘being born again’ (Gospel of John, Ch. 3, v. 7) comes in, spoken of by Jesus Himself. Unless our status becomes ‘in Christ’ and no longer ‘in Adam’, we will be stuck with the kind of love that is all too common in the world around us; leading to betrayal, abuse, pretence and manipulation, all because ultimately and primarily we want to look after no. 1.

Considerations and prayers at Christmas

Dear praying friends,

I would like to wish you all a peace-filled Christmas and New Year, as well as renewed vigour in 2016 for the ongoing tasks ahead, which the Lord is challenging us to continue in or to take up new challenges. May we have His wisdom to discern!

Would you pray with me for the many Christian refugees world-wide at Christmas, who feel heavy-laden and heart-broken because they have lost everything that has been dear to them; their homes, their countries, their families, their comforts. May they somehow know that we haven’t forgotten them! We are so blessed here in Australia to enjoy those things, or at least most of those things! Let’s never take them for granted!

Let’s also pray for those churches and organisations who go out of their way to bring joy into the lives of many; that they would have the funds and willing helpers to do so and that they would not neglect prayer in what they are doing.

Ultimately, we are all in need of a touch from God at this time, as it brings many challenges.

In love,

Pia Horan  

A few thoughts regarding the turmoil in Europe

My heart goes out to the people in Europe at this time, especially the countries at the epicentre of the latest terrorist event in Paris.

I sense great turmoil in the minds and hearts of Europeans, especially so as at the same time they are being flooded by refugees seeking asylum. As it has been revealed that some terrorists have managed to slip in under the guise of asylum seekers; this creates enormous conflict in the minds and hearts of the host nations.

In the midst of all these fluctuating emotions and opinions, Christians in particular need to draw aside and hear from the Spirit of God who certainly is not silent regarding these events! He always has and continues to want to speak to His people (John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me).

Whenever Jesus, after His crucifixion and resurrection, appeared to His disciples His first words were always: “Peace be with you”, bringing that peace to those who would receive it. Without that peace first, we cannot possibly hear Him over the chatter of our anxious minds (John 20:19;  14:27) .

My heart also goes out to the refugees finding themselves in Europe, in search for hope and a better future. It is possible that the recent tide of goodwill amongst some of the host nations could turn, in view of the recent events. This would add stress upon stress for them; already depleted by existential anxieties and now new suspicions and possible closedness coming from some of their hosts, with some hostile sections gaining greater momentum.

In this scenario, I pray for my Christian brethren; in particular amongst refugees. The call to a walk of faith never ceases, despite circumstances (2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”). The Eternal Unseen is of course the God which Christ revealed and His many promises of His ready help in times of need. Through steady faith, we receive His promises, just like Abraham and many others. Without faith, we cannot please Him (Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”).

May Christians continue to look to Him in these very difficult times, seek His peace, put their trust in His many promises and be strengthened in body, mind, heart and spirit!

Psalm 27:13-14 “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.